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Croydon Council launches review over Riddlesdown train deaths

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CROYDON Council is to carry out an internal review to see if lessons can be learned from the deaths of Zachary and Donna Oettinger.

The three-year-old and his mother were killed on March 22 by a train outside Riddlesdown during morning rush hour. Police say they have found no suspicious circumstances around the deaths.

A spokesman for Croydon Council said: "Following the tragic deaths of Zachary Oettinger and his mother Donna Oettinger, the Croydon Safeguarding Children's Board (CSCB) has made the decision to undertake a serious case review.

"This relates to Zachary but the board will be considering all agencies involved with the family."

The review will consider whether there are lessons in the case for agencies such as social and health services.

Councillor Tim Pollard, cabinet member for children and a CSCB board member, said such a review was normal in the circumstances and there was "no guarantee any lessons needed to be learned".

He added "Each individual [safeguarding board] takes a decision as to where each thinks the line between conducting and not conducting a review is, but I think in this particular case given the facts of the case it is a sensible thing to do."

The council's published guidance on serious case reviews says they should be conducted whenever a child dies and abuse or neglect is known or suspected to be a factor in the death, regardless of whether children's social services have been involved.

A spokesman refused to comment on whether its own social services had been involved with the family, saying: "We do not comment while a serious case review is ongoing – one aspect of these reviews is to find out which agencies a family was known to and to what extent."

The news comes as family of Donna and Zachary in England spoke publicly for the first time about their loss this week. In a joint statement released through British Transport Police, they paid tribute to "devoted mother" Donna, sole carer for her "full of fun" son, whose father, Mohamed Nasr, lives in Egypt.

They said: "Donna was a devoted mother, daughter, sister and auntie, who always had a big smile and a sparkle in her eyes. She was a single mum who loved and cared for her family and worked hard to provide and care solely for Zaki, who she worshipped.

"They had lots of fun and adventures together, travelling around the country, visiting friends and abroad to see Zaki's dad, who was unable to leave Egypt for various reasons. Our beloved, darling Zaki – a very happy little boy full of fun and mischief – loved dancing to music, playing with his toys, going to playschool and spending time with Lisa, his childminder, while Donna was at work."

They added that Donna suffered from "severe anxiety," adding: "Our thoughts go out to sufferers and families of anxiety, an illness not to be underestimated."

They continued: "We wish to express our gratitude for all the help and messages we have received from families, friends, colleagues and the people we have never met."

Detective Chief Inspector Iain Miller, senior investigating officer, said police are preparing a file for the coroner for an inquest to be opened.

He added: "Our thoughts remain with Donna and Zaki's family and friends."

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call British Transport Police on Freephone 0800 40 50 40, quoting incident reference 104 of 22/03/2013.

Croydon Council launches review over Riddlesdown train deaths


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